This all began during an innocent conversation.
I was chatting with a fellow friend who has recently decided to move to a remote part of the country. After she invited me to do the same, I jokingly said that my complexion doesn’t exactly warrant me safety in the rural parts of the country. She quickly scoffed it off that these types of racial discrimination don’t happen anymore in 2017. She concluded with the following reassurance:
“It’s all in your head, Ed.”
Part of me believed in her words. Until last week.
I was driving home one afternoon with my wife. The turn in front of my new residence is oddly blocked by a cement barrier, and the residents of my building, myself included, need to do a U-turn at the end of a dead end street in order for us to access the street from the opposite side. On this fateful day, as I made the turn, a police cruiser flashed his lights and stopped me from behind. The following exchange occurred:
Me: Hello Officer.
Police: Did you know you did a U-Turn back there.
Me: Yes, I did sir.
Police: You know you are not supposed to do a U-turn in any type of intersection.
Me: I’m sorry, sir. I did not know that. I thought if there was no "Do not U-turn sign", I am able to make a U-turn.
Police: Where are you from?
Me: (A bit stunned) Uh…Vancouver?
Police: I mean how long have you been driving here.
Me: (Confused) Um..3 months, I just moved here. I live right there (points to the next block).
Police: (Impatiently) No, I mean how long have you been driving in this country.
Me: Oh! Since I was…
He then interrupted me mid-sentence and took my license. He then retrieved the registration from my wife, who sat next to me. Puzzled, he looked at the registration, which is under my wife’s name.
Police: (to my wife) So this is your car?
Police: (looking at her) Okay. You know what, I’m going to let you go this time. Just don’t do it again.
Me: Thank you sir.
The police officer drove away, leaving us sitting there in silence.
Wife: Did he just say and do what I think he said and did?
Me: Yeah. I’m pretty sure he let me go because you are white and it is your car.
Wife: Is it me or was he really racist?
I said nothing. Because somehow, I wished it wasn't reality. I wished it was all in my head.